Author's Note: This is not a Halloween related post. This is real life.
Recently I was in Seattle and had the pleasure of staying at the Green Tortoise Hostel near the Pike Place Market. It was a very nice hostel with clean and safe facilities, nice staff, and an amazing location steps from the market and downtown area. Having not used Facebook in quite a while, I (for a brief time) had forgot that the rest of the world is somewhat obsessed with it. In fact, when I was in the common area trying to access the internet I could not help but notice that there were many people viewing Facebook. In fact, there were at least a dozen people using the internet, and as I looked at them all in turn, I noticed every single one of these individuals was on Facebook!
Traveling is one of my favorite pastimes. I usually stay in hostels while outside of the US, and have only stayed in hostels in a few US cities. However, I have noticed that no matter where I am, there are always many people posting on Facebook. I have only used Facebook on one of my travels, a month long trip to Panama and Costa Rica. I did not use it much, as I never had too many friends on Facebook. Further, I always thought using the internet a lot while on a vacation was somewhat of a waste of time. I believe that unless I am using the internet to learn about the location and find nearby things that I do not want to miss, then I should not be on the internet while away. However, that does not stop many from spending hours a day while on vacation hooked up on Facebook. I ask; why spend thousands of dollars taking a trip if you are going to spend much of that time on Facebook?
There is a deep desire in us to share (or brag) about that which we do. Often we perceive that others envy us while we are away at exotic locations. Perhaps our families and friends have never been somewhere so different and exciting. Life back home could never be as exciting as that which is before us on our travels. Or so we like to think. Since the earliest days of exploration, the idea of new and exotic places have fascinated many but been seen by few. The truth is, Facebook has made it easy to brag about that which we do, and it is on my travels that I see people using Facebook the most (a close second would be in the classroom). If we are bragging about something on Facebook, such as the adventures we are having, are we really having adventures, or are we bragging? Time is being lost as people post about their exploits around the world instead of enjoying the new locale that they are in for only a limited time. Why sit in front of a computer while white beaches and historic cities beckon around you? Why not get out and explore instead of trying to make someone else feel jealous? Perhaps you are only sharing your vacation with family and friends with no intention of making them jealous. However, if that is the case, could you not share it with them via e-mail or in person once you arrive back home? Do you really need to be hooked on Facebook, or the internet, while on your vacation?
The Rise of the "Facebook Zombies"
Looking around at the many screens displaying Facebook I was horrified to find that I was in a room full of Facebook Zombies. People totally immersed in the virtual world of Facebook, totally disconnected from the sites and sounds of the city around them. Keep in mind that this was not late night or early morning hours. The time I speak of was late day, shortly before sunset -- the time of day that the city is the most alive. It was not raining out, the market was still open, and there was much happening. Why not take a stroll along the waterfront, visit the Pike Street Market, grab a cheap bite to eat at Uwajimaya, or walk to Capitol Hill or Queen Anne? The new Olympic Sculpture Garden and Belltown both make for a nice end of the day stroll. An evening spent watching the sunset over the city via the ferry to Bainbridge Island or Bremerton would be better than glaring at a screen that will still be there when the trip is all said and done.
I made sure that Facebook did not interfere with my vacation, and I hope that it will not interfere with your next trip, no matter where it will be. People are often busy with their lives, and when it comes time to get some time off and see a new part of the world, I hope that they will take advantage of the time that they have to enjoy it. Why spend time in the confines of a hostel looking at Facebook when new adventures beckon? If one feels like being social, there are few places better to meet new people than in a hostel. Being on Facebook does not make one more social, in fact, in the atmosphere of a hostel, it makes one appear everything but. Please, don't find yourself losing valuable time in a place so rich and varied by using Facebook instead of going out and enjoying everything that there is to be enjoyed.